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Cub Signings

The Cubs re-signed 2B Mark Grudzielanek and OF Tom Goodwin yesterday, and declined to offer arbitration to Kenny Lofton.

In the grand scheme of Jim Hendry's mind, these are minor deals, I think. There weren't a lot of second base choices that didn't cost a lot of (a) money or (b) players (i.e. Todd Walker, or Jose Vidro), and Grudzielanek does have the chance to be in decline next year, but I think Dusty Baker might be able to squeeze another decent year out of him. Grudz accused the Cubs and MLB of collusion, but I don't believe that's the case for one moment. What Grudz and other players are simply going to have to understand is that the days of 100% pay increases are over. There won't be any more $20 million contracts because the marketplace (say, isn't that what the players always say should set the tone?) has determined that it should not be so.

Works both ways, fellas.

Tom Goodwin was a useful spare part last year and I believe he will be so again. Now the Cubs have to fill the Troy O'Leary slot on the roster with a better player, and I believe they will do so. One potential signing is Jose Cruz Jr., who draws lots of walks, has some power and is a switch-hitter. He would be insurance against Corey Patterson not being fully ready, and also against Moises Alou suddenly being washed up. If he does well, he is only 30 years old and perhaps could take over in LF in 2005.

Finally, Kenny Lofton (along with Doug Glanville, Antonio Alfonseca, Shawn Estes, Mark Guthrie, Dave Veres, Eric Karros,O'Leary and Tony Womack, none of whom had a chance to make next year's team anyway) was not offered arbitration. This is a bit of a surprise, as Lofton could have filled that fourth outfielder slot admirably. But even at 37, Lofton may have wanted to play every day, and apparently there are at least two teams (Padres and Yankees) willing to give him a chance to do so.

You can't argue with this. Lofton was a joy to have on the team and I don't think the Cubs would have made the playoffs without him. Thanks, Kenny, and hope you have a good ride wherever you land.